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Weekend Property

Travellers’ accommodation demands in Hong Kong go beyond business to leisure

As serviced apartments evolve to look and feel much more like people’s homes providers in Asia are expected to follow suit.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 11:17am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 1:56pm

Working from home is a fact of life for most people these days. From responding to emails late at night to bringing projects back to complete at the weekend, the majority of people surveyed for studies in various countries agree that this is the case.

When work takes you on the road, for a short or longer-term assignment, it’s just as important to be able to continue to do so from your rented accommodation. In the case of serviced apartments, when the unit often functions as a residence and workplace, the ability to work efficiently and comfortably becomes a priority.

Max Thorne, London-based global chief executive of JLL’s hotels and hospitality team, identifies the provision of flexible home/office short-stay accommodation as a high-growth trend.

“It is an exciting time for the serviced apartment industry,” Thorne wrote in a recent report. “The industry is evolving with new products to meet changing customers’ needs.

“Travellers demand for a ‘home-away-from-home’ accommodation is not limited to business travel but for leisure as well. Technology plays a key role in both product design and booking platforms.”

The long-time industry expert cited British operators Zoku, SACO and Element as leading the trend with their emphasis on providing a flexible home/office short-stay accommodation, mixed-used social spaces, and the services of a hotel.

As serviced apartments evolve to “look and feel much more like people’s homes,” expect providers in Asia, where there is huge demand, to follow suit.

For operators targeting business travellers, the most basic requirements begin – but don’t end – with a functional writing desk, and a fast, reliable internet connection, which guests don’t expect to have to pay for. According to the US-based Global Business Travel Association, free Wi-fi or high-speed internet access would seal the accommodation deal for up to 69 per cent of business travellers.

As Condé Nast Traveler contributing editor Mark Ellwood wrote last year: “Forget Michelin stars, it’s Mbps that matter.”

On top of those basics, Hong Kong hospitality brand The Bauhinia provides a meeting room for the use of guests at its serviced apartment property on Connaught Road, Central, at Sheung Wan MTR station.

Travellers demand for a ‘home-away-from-home’ accommodation is not limited to business travel but for leisure as well. Technology plays a key role in both product design and booking platforms
Max Thorne, global chief executive, JLL hotels and hospitality team

The Bauhinia Apartments attract short-stay business travellers from around the world, apartments manager Grace Lo says. To meet their needs, the 118 units of one and two bedrooms, sized from 500 sq ft to 900 sq ft, provide a comfortable environment for working from home. The on-site meeting room can host groups of up to 20 people.

So corporate travellers can hit the ground running, a growing number of the city’s serviced apartment operators also offer guests use of a smartphone, often with free local and international calls included, and useful apps uploaded. This is offered by Citadines Ashley Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hyatt Regency Sha Tin and CHI Residence.

Serviced apartment properties, such as Largos Residences in Sheung Wan, Lanson Place Hotel in Causeway Bay, V in Wan Chai and Yin in Central,have a business centre on site. Pacific Place Apartments in Admiralty offers use of the comprehensive business facilities at the nearby Conrad hotel.

Initiatives launched by The Ascott Limited (Hong Kong) cater to the needs of working-on-the-go business travellers.

“On top of the very basic Wi-fi offering and business centre services, some of our properties partner with nearby co-working spaces to provide a more equipped office environment for working professionals,” says Stanley Ng Ting-kit, residence manager for Somerset Victoria Park Hong Kong.

For services on-site, guests at Citadines Mercer Hong Kong in Sheung Wan, and Somerset Victoria Park Hong Kongin Causeway Bay, may use the residents’ lounge as a meeting space, by arrangement. Light refreshments, such as coffee, tea and juice, are also available.

“For more formal meetings, we can also arrange the office facilities, including conference room, at United Centre in Admiralty,” Ng says. Ascott can also arrange daily rental of co-working spaces in CBD locations, and is developing further initiatives with a view to better serve the business traveller.